That's incredible! I've never seen anything close to that scale. 60 acres covered? I could never walk in that field.
About spider silk: it is indeed incredibly strong and for this reason, man has for years been trying to master the secret to its creation. Imagine harnessing that strength to improve certain structural materials.
Yet, all attempts to recreate its structure have so far been unsuccessful, producing a protein structure that is similar but unstable.
This subject has always interested me, so I decided to just do a quick search and I found a few interesting articles regarding a new technique that is being used in Nexia Biotechnologies based in Montreal. (Mind you, this material dated back to 1999, so it would be interesting to know how far this project has advanced).
www.welcome-moldova.com/articles/silk.shtml (external - login to view)
researchers at the Quebec-based Nexia along with scientists at the U.S. Army's Soldier Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM) in Natick, MA, say they may have figured a way out of the sticky situation. The actual solution consists of inserting the spider genes that code silk structure into the DNA of milk animals.... the product, called "BioSteel" may soon be used for a variety of applications, from medical sutures to bulletproof vests to space stations.
When I first read this I pictured spider silk being shot out of a goat's teat...
This article actually describes the process in detail and it is very interesting if you like this scientific stuff.
Also, another interesting fact I remember reading from an old issue of Equinox. It was a letter written by a woman responding to an article about the strength of spider silk and she wanted to point out something else they had overlooked.
When she was younger, she used to play around in her grandparent's basement and whenever she would cut herself on her grandfather's tools, her grandmother would tell her to go back down to the basement and cover the wound with cobwebs. It was never questioned, she just did it and it seemed to help heal the wound quickly without leaving infection.
Years later, she now knows (research has shown) that spider silk actually carries natural fungicides and bactericides that prevent breakdown of the web material. Makes you wonder who was the first person who tried spider webs as a wound dressing.
I was impressed by this anecdote and it just proves that there are many things out there that we have yet to learn about their full potential.